Women who stare at trees

I plan to lie in the sun in the woods until I feel like getting up.   Sleep, stare, read, lie like a starfish looking up at the branches.  This is the view that’s fixed me before.  Though maybe it’s not the view that heals, but the act of lying with your head at the roots of a tree.  I’ve spent some time doing that, every minute well spent.

Today I was holding a book over my face against a blazing sun when I noticed teensy pearls of light spiralling lazily down on me, less than half a dozen landing and evaporating instantly on my skin with a soft pinch.  They were bright like diamonds, only weightless, drifting slowly down like snowflakes out of a clear bright sky with barely a hint of white cotton candy in it.  It was the most amazing thing, and made no sense.  I’m not even sure it wasn’t snow, although the sun was so hot.  Ice crystals?  How could they possibly survive to the surface?  It lasted less than a minute, and was over.  And I thought, what else can you miss when you’re not lying in the woods?

Happiness II: happiness under duress

I’m trying to restrain myself from doing a Miltonesque Happiness Lost, Happiness Regained stunt, but I knew this was coming- the failure of the dam of habit, structure, and support; the inundation of stress.  I know that Happiness Recovered is coming too, thankfully, on the other side of Lost.

Due to reduced hours, awareness, and deliberate care, I’m hitting the wall in the last week of April instead of the first, but still, the wall is here.

It feels like I got a hoof in the chest, or I’m under water, with my rib cage squeezed so I can’t draw a full breath, which gets tedious day after day.   At work I fight vomiting half the day, and my inability to do simple math or focus on words on a page spawns horror at the mistakes I might be making and puts my last energy into concentration.  My woodpile scratches are not healing, and sometimes my throat gets sore and feels like it’s shutting, in a matter of seconds.  Kinda weird, how something that’s all emotional can play out so physical.

I swear, my stress-coping machinery has been savaged, god knows how or when, exactly, so I’m just not equipped to manage stress, real or imagined.  Knowing it’s imagined doesn’t help. Continue reading Happiness II: happiness under duress

In other words, Mom can’t relax yet

In order to make sure my birthday wouldn’t blend indistinguishably into every other work day, I climbed a small mountain in the dark with a bag and a bivysac and slept up there.  It was just unseasonal enough to be a slightly ridiculous endeavour for a weeknight, and therefore memorable.

Last year I spent the night on a raft adrift on a small lake, and that worked.  I remember that birthday.  A fantastic evening. Kind of set the tone for the whole year, actually.

There was  a point, though, when I was waist deep in freezing water in the dark with my feet that I could no longer feel sucking menacingly into the mud, wresting the raft out of the year’s logjam/jetsam into open water with great difficulty, fish fleeing out of their winter’s refuge around my legs, teeth chattering around laughter, when I thought it would probably go pretty badly if someone chanced on me right then.  *static crackles- crrsk*  Crazy person in the lake; approach with extreme caution *crrrk*  No one did.

Those are the best times, though, when you’re stuck someplace ridiculous, but still very dangerous, one slip, ankle twist or a blow to the head away from some ignominious accident, when you think, Okay, there is no possible room for failure here, because dying or maiming oneself when you’re up to something this silly just will not bear explanation.  So you end up laughing, shaking with laughter at the sad absurdity of where you got yourself stuck, clinging desperately to a rock in the middle of a slide (for instance), thinking of the tourist we were mocking just last week who had to get plucked out of the same predicament with a helicopter.  Perhaps that’s the wrong pronoun all over that paragraph;  I end up snickering maniacally while clinging to a rock, or tearing my abs in the effort to right myself in a treewell (for instance).
Continue reading In other words, Mom can’t relax yet

Wood pile, check.

We have a shed full of assorted wire and fencing that swiftly overflowed to this giant mound of wire behind the shed,  compiled from many small knots of wire that were strewn about the place.  As I undo things and clean deeper, I’ve made an observation about the prior denizen of this property.  Big fan of metal and poly.

I’m reminded of discovering the “creative construction” methods freely wielded at my last house before I owned it.  But this time, it’s gardening techniques, and it’s all plastic and steel.

Grapevines getting unruly?  Airline cable to the rescue.    Gate for the fence?  Metal mattress spring frame it is!  Need to suppress weeds? Feed sacks, clear poly, and my favourite, insulation bags!  Need to support branches?  How about baling wire and rubber?  No matter that that will cut through the bark and the tree will pathetically bulge around it as it struggles to grow, choked by a wire collar.

Everywhere, I’m tearing assorted fencing and yards of barbed wire out of the grass, sod and dirt where it’s grown over.   Continuing my plastic removal rampage, I ripped up another unsightly area of poly and found it was pinned down by a dozen (wait for it), 5-8” lag bolts!  With washers.  Continue reading Wood pile, check.


All I want to do now is play outside.  Aka, yardwork.  Cleanup, cleanup, cleanup, the Sisyphean job you inherit with a new place that lasts, oh, pretty much ’til you leave it.   I started out today raking up my “front lawn”, a bucolic task pleasantly accompanied by Saturday CBC.  But pretty soon I was digging out ancient plastic that was laid down at some point in the past in lieu of landscape fabric (I guess), then I stepped on a wire and discovered it was one protruding inch of 6’ of chicken wire under 6” of dirt, totally enmeshed with the roots of the tree it was by.   By the time I’d wrested that from the ground I was bleeding, sweating, and filthy, so I figured I’d just keep that theme going for the rest of the day, moving from random task to random task until the light and my energy finally fade.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is my favourite way to work.  It’s how I want to live, actually.  Barefoot until November and moving constantly from thing to thing as I’m inspired to do it. Continue reading Rudderless

First barefoot day!

Wow, does that ever look boring

A perfect day, sunny but not too warm, still too early for bugs, and the swampy wet everywhere has receded.

So good to be barefoot again; it was hard to put my boots on briefly.  Mucky has his blanket off too, so it must definitely be spring.

Since the garden is still underwater and has a dubious future, I started chopping up the second of two flower/garden beds right outside my door: in principle a great idea, to keep your garden very very close to your everyday life.  What started as a little project to wake up with before breakfast turned into hours of finger combing the angel hair pasta of rhizomes out of the dirt, and shaking soil out of rag dolls of sod.

Last weekend I hoed the other bed and it went much faster because it was not so grown over, but it felt interminable because I wasn’t feeling well.  Today, hours of sifting soil by hand, crumpling lumps, plucking out rocks, and pulling fat worms out of the knots of roots, and I couldn’t have been more content.  Strange but true.  I ate breakfast at 3, did nothing I had vaguely planned to do today, and filled a wheelbarrow to overflowing with the grass roots, but it was very satisfying to complete.

There’s something about completion.  Doing 3/4 of a job gives me no satisfaction at all.  Even if it’s impossible to finish a thing in a day, I just can’t leave a project halfway done and feel good about the work I’ve put into it.  Only when it’s totally done do I get the combination of relief and pride that completion brings.  That causes many a late night for me.

Another year

My birthday is next week, and I think birthdays are more suited to the reflection, self-assessment, and resolutions normally saddled on the “New Year”. As I’ve said before, I’m pretty damn happy with myself and my life exactly where I am today. Maybe I wish I was a little bit younger with tougher joints and more money?….well really, no. I am where I am, and that’s an amazingly awesome, successful place. Since it’s not about the arrival, anyways, but enjoying the work towards something you care about. So what is there to work towards that I care about? What fronts of life?

Relationship? Dante Shepherd’s opinion notwithstanding, most of my experience with relationship can be succinctly summed up with the two words, “epic fail”. On the other hand, I love being alone; I revel in it. I care less than I ever have about having a man at my side. I think that means I’m stronger emotionally or something; that I stand alone more peacefully every day. I’ve certainly never been happier.

Money? Well, money flows through my life like a wide, fast river, but it doesn’t pool anywhere. I just don’t think I’m suited for RRSPs or savings accounts. I always seem to have enough, and I can always earn more when it runs out, but there’s never any in the bank. I fantasize about the feeling of “security” of savings, of plans, of always earning the money before I spend it, but in my imagination, that feeling is just not appealing enough to put off the things I want to do. When they become available to do, I seize the day, every time, and the dollar be damned. I know when I want to change this philosophy badly enough, I will put my shoulder to it like everything else and change it. But for now, I just don’t want to badly enough. So that can be filed (with relationship) under “would be nice; no investment of energy planned”. Continue reading Another year

Thank you, barn.

Today I cleaned out the old barn and cut a big stack of firewood.  I was going to write “clean up the old barn” on a list, but instead I just did it.  Good thing I didn’t put it on a list or it would have been all over.

For those of you just joining us the “old barn” is the unrenovated side of the barn that I do not live in, but kind of use as my shop.  I put an exterior wall down the middle of the original barn last summer and made one side livable.  That’s where I live.

The “old barn” is the uninhabitable before picture that I shock visitors with (“The whole thing looked like this?”), pretty much untouched since it housed stock and hay. Filthy, dusty work, but it was definitely satisfying to stack up garbage for a future dump run and cardboard for recycling, organize all the “shed stuff” and make it all accessible by bucking up the small mountain of scrap wood that’s been piling up for burning. Continue reading Thank you, barn.

Alas, Mucky took an interest in it

“What evidence?”

This week’s free day I spent writing about Iceland.  I just looked up blearily to see the time and to really realize this day is officially in the books.  Is that possible, that I actually wrote for 14 hours straight today, with a short break to pick up my mail and unload my snow tires?

Is that what writers do?  Because that’s just wrong.  I feel off balance, dizzy, which could also be because I’ve only had a smoothie for real food today.   I am happy to have caught up about 6 more days of our adventures, but so much for moderation.

Sitting in bed, living in the past, in Iceland, eating chocolate from Cuba and drinking tea.  Oh yeah, a five star day.